Right now the outlook is pretty bleak. Banks are going bust. Loyal employees are losing their jobs. And our 401(k)s have taken a nosedive. But there is a silver lining to this recession. Here are five reasons why a downturn needn't get you down.
1. Frugal is now fashionable. "It" bags are out, and good old-fashioned ingenuity is in. That means there's less emphasis on wearing the latest styles and more focus on your smarts and business savvy (finally). Those of us who are savers by nature no longer have to hide our brown-bag lunches or be coy about shopping secondhand. Suddenly, the word "recessionista" has some cachet! These are skills that will help us even when the economy improves.
2. Stores are offering serious sales. For those who have the cash, this is clearly a buyer's market. Mortgage rates are low (for those who can get one), and travel companies like hotels and cruise lines are offering outrageously cheap vacations in attempts to lure travelers. Retailers are offering ridiculous deals on electronics, clothing, and other goods.
3. We have an excuse to explore inexpensive hobbies. Instead of going out to dinner, people are learning to cook and eating at home. Rather than buying a new spring wardrobe, they're hosting swap parties to share clothes with friends. We're digging the DIY revival, because it forces us to get creative and try new things that we might not do under different circumstances.
4. An end to the excess. In some ways, higher gas and utility costs are good for the green movement, because they force people to be more conservative in their driving and energy use. Also, because of rising grocery prices, many people are buying locally, which helps support local farmers and reduces the environmental impact of shipping food across the country. Less spending means less waste on packaging and useless products that people don't really need.
5. Two words: more sex. While couples are cutting back on lavish dinners and luxury vacations, they're still having sex. In fact, condoms and adult toys are among the few products that actually saw an increase in sales last year, even more so around the time that Lehman Brothers went under. It makes perfect sense, because sex is an inexpensive way to spend a Saturday night with your significant other -- and it relieves stress.
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